Emily Blunt and John Krasinski play the heads of a family surviving in a world plagued by beings that hunt using sound in A Quiet Place.
At the heart of the film is the Abbott family, anchored by Emily Blunt and John Krasinski as Evelyn and Lee, respectively. Their children are Cade Woodward as the naive Beau, Noah Jupe as the timid Marcus, and Millicent Simmonds as Regan, the hearing impaired daughter. Due to an accident early on in the film, Regan feels particularly distant from the rest of her family, leading to tension later on. Emily Blunt in particular is captivating, conveying tons of emotion through her eyes alone. When she displays feelings of terror, it cuts to the bone.
Plaguing this family are the unnamed beings that stalk the woods and hunt using echolocation. Krasinski, who directed and also co-wrote the script, expertly handles the creatures, balancing the fact that monsters are always best unseen while recognizing that audiences DO want to see the creature. A first glimpse is seen early on, with the creature being obscured not by sleight of hand with the camera, but by the creature’s speed in attack. It’s a frightening moment that absolutely establishes the stakes at play.
The creatures themselves are a mystery in the film; glimpses of newspaper clippings and a whiteboard offer some clues as to their origins, but the audience only knows what the Abbott family knows. The creatures’ use of echolocation plays heavily into the film’s aesthetic, as does Regan’s deafness. Krasinski uses silence to establish the barrenness of this world, and then cuts the sound completely when we hear things from Regan’s point of view. The effect is startling and adds to the tension. A Quiet Place may rely on jump scares, but they are expertly crafted and often unpredictable. If there is anything that is going to “wow” from the film, it’s the way Krasinski handles the silent aspect of the film, creating atmosphere and emotional performances without much dialogue.
Unfortunately, the script for A Quiet Place isn’t up to the same quality as the directing and performances. There are three frustratingly dumb aspects to the story here, none of which can be talked about without going into heavy spoilers (I’ll avoid those for the time being; look for a followup sometime next week). While horror has often relied on suspension of disbelief, the lengths to which Krasinski shows the meticulous and careful nature of the Abbott family makes their errors all the more disappointing.
Is It Good?
Frustrations aside, this was a fun time at the theater. Powerful performances and strong direction anchor a tense film that should give horror fans the scares they’re looking for. More suspenseful than outright terrifying, A Quiet Place makes for a great theater experience. Just don’t think about it too much.